In The Trenches: Risk Vs. Reward
Week 15, the second week of the fantasy football playoffs for most, was set up to be one of the oddest in memory. It seemed like there were health questions with nearly every team in the NFL, especially at the running back spot, and the result was that plenty of folks in the fantasy playoffs were forced to turn away from players that got them to the playoffs. Which players, those that were potentially waiver-wire adds in Week 15, performed or failed to perform in Week 15? What a wild ride it was.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins
Cousins completed 29 of 45 passes, and when you throw the pigskin that much you know the fantasy numbers are going to be impressive, and that they were. Cousins did throw two interceptions and looked a bit shaky at times, not to mention that the Redskins lost by a point to the Falcons, but for the majority of the game Kirk hit his receivers on his way to 381 yards and three scores. He got Pierre Garcon (7-129-1), Aldrick Robinson (4-99) and Santana Moss (8-64-1) involved, and even Fred Davis did something (23 yard touchdown). Cousins was as good as anyone could have possibly hoped he would be (RGIII had two games with three scores but not one with 381 yards passing this season).
RESULT: Sugar plumb fairies dancing.
Jay Cutler, Bears
Coming back from injury, Cutler was who he always has been. He took a couple of sacks, made some bad decisions resulting in two interceptions and often flashed shoddy mechanics. He also showed why he can be an elite chucker of the pigskin, especially in the second half of the game, as he ended the day completing 71 percent of his 31 passes for 265 yards and three scores. The only concern? Cutler loves him some Brandon Marshall who he targeted 13 times in Week 15 while Alshon Jeffery only saw five passes. Luckily for Jeffery owners he caught all five passes for 72 yards an a sick 45 yards touchdown grab (Marshall caught six for 95 an a score). You can feel pretty darn comfortable starting Cutler as your QB1 next week against a poor Eagles pass defense.
RESULT: A QB1 level performance as hoped for.
Matt Asiata, Vikings
Somehow Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart sat out the game with injuries but the Vikings were still able to record 48 points against the Eagles. Not only did Matt Cassel throw for 382 yards and two scores, but Greg Jennings also caught a career best 11 passes while racking up 163 yards. But this is about Asiata an undrafted runner who, literally, had three carries in his career before Week 15. For those that owned A.D. and Gerhart and had no choice but to grab and start Asiata... you better have gotten drunk Sunday night to celebrate. I'm not talking like a couple of beers, I'm talking blackout drunk, walking up in some strange bed looking for your socks as you try to sneak out before your partner wakes up. Matt Asiata entered Week 15 with three NFL carries in two seasons. He had 30 carries in Week 15. That's, literally, 10 times more than his career total entering the game. Asiata also racked up an astounding three scores that went for a total of seven yards. Who cares if his 30 carries led to 51 yards?
RESULT: Pass the bubbly, party favors and contraception.
Chris Ogbonnaya, Browns
You should have started Edwin Backer. The only problem with that statement is that there wasn't one person on the planet who started Edwin Backer (I'm serious I would be stupefied if one of the 25 million people playing fantasy football played Baker in Week 15). Signed off the practice squad of the Texans early in Week 15, Baker was with the team for four days before leading the Browns backfield in fantasy production as he carried the ball eight times for 38 yards an a score while he also caught four balls for 46 yards in exactly the type of effort most expected from Ogbonnaya (who ran five times for seven yards while catching five passes for 39 yards). It was more of the same for Ogby, even with Willis McGahee (concussion) out of the mix, and that's not what anyone was hoping for.
RESULT: Humiliated by a practice squader.
Jordan Todman, Jaguars
Maybe the Jags don't need Maurice Jones-Drew after all. Todman, getting his first extended look as a big leaguer, blew up all over the Bills in Week 15. He didn't score a touchdown so his fantasy point total wasn't massive, but if you saw the performance you have to have been impressed. Todman ran over the Bills for 109 yards on a whopping 25 carries. He was the Jags' offense for large portions of this game. If that was it his effort would have been a success, but fear not, the speedy back also was targeted a team-high eight times as the loss of Cecil Shorts (inactive) didn't hurt his target total one bit. What did Todman do with the ball through the air? He added 44 more yards on four receptions. All told that's 29 touches and 153 yards. See what I mean about him blowing up?
RESULT: Eat your heart out MJD.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings
As mentioned above it was Jennings that blew up for the Vikes, but Patterson was still a force when called upon. He was given two carries that led to 15 yards, and he also caught five passes. Luckily he scored because he only had 35 yards receiving. Fifty yards on seven touches is nothing to look at, but the fact he got in the end zone made his effort one that any owner had to be pleased with. That's three scores in three weeks though he's averaged only 3.7 receptions and 60 yards in the three contests.
RESULT: Solid is as solid does.
Da'Rick Rogers, Colts
With LaVon Brazil out of the mix many were pumped about about playing the physical freak that is Rogers. Unfortunately for Rogers owners he tanked after that six catch, 107 yard, two score breakout in Week 14. Rodgers hauled in a mere two of six targets leading to a 23 yards in Week 15. He almost had a 27 yards score but Andrew Luck misfired on the play, and that killed Rogers chance at a decent level of production. Also it didn't help that the Texans looked like a team that was ready to go home for the offseason as the Colts simply rolled over them before taking it easy in the second half (the game was farther apart than even the 25-3 score suggested).
RESULT: Burned like a marshmallow by a kid at his first campfire.
Ace Sanders, Jaguars
When you are barely taller than a gnome, and I would know given that I've got about 13 of them in my garden for the holidays, it's tough to be anything more than a hopeful PPR option. When you're also in the worst offense in football, even with your top wideout is inactive (Shorts), there still isn't a lot of excitement. Those that hoped Sanders would have a big day, basically because there was no one else to throw the ball to, were pretty much burned as Sanders was only targeted three times by Chad Henne. Sanders caught a mere two passes for 17 yards, but at least he got into the end zone so it wasn't a catastrophic loss for those that started him.
RESULT: What did you expect?
Jacob Tamme, Broncos
He played 45 of 46 snaps in Week 14 after Wes Welker went down with a concussion. Everyone thought he would fill the slot role in Week 15 with Welker out. He didn't even start the game (Virgil Green). Tamme was an unmitigated disaster in Week 15, no other way to say it. Tamme caught one ball for nine yards in about as pathetic an outing as could have been envisioned. Pouring salt in the gaping would was the fact that Andre Caldwell, and yes there wasn't a single team in fantasy who started him, manned the slot for nearly the entire game, caught six balls and went for 59 yards. Oh yeah, he also secured two passes for touchdowns. That should have been Tamme's production.
RESULT: Feeling dirty after a night of drinking and wishing you could take it back.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT & Friday's at 9 PM EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answers everyone's questions.
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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